If you’d been anywhere near social media during the week from about September 8 to 15, I have no doubt you will have seen some reference to the Problogger Event on the Gold Coast. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed #pbevent – but it’s a lot!
What is PBEvent? The PB team says, “The ProBlogger Training Event has been created for bloggers of all levels to come together to learn and network – with the goal of building better blogs”. And from my experience that about sums it up! Two jam packed days of all things blog … & fun & food, with a whole load of inspiration thrown in!
I was fortunate enough to win a ticket to attend after entering a competition some months back through Oz Blog Hosting. The truth is I would never have considered going had this not happened. Why?
1. Not in the family budget.
4. Oh & of course, fear!
You get the idea.
I entered the comp on a whim after seeing a share on Facebook – never expecting I had the remotest chance of winning. It just goes to show, you never know when life will throw you an opportunity & dare you to take it. I took it & I feel so lucky, elated, overwhelmed, daunted, terrified & frustrated for reasons I shall try to articulate in the following.
My PBEvent journey began when I won the ticket & we decided that would make the trip to the Gold Coast as a family, four peas in a pod. Decision made, plans in place, the physical & emotional journey began on the Wednesday before, as we jettisoned ourselves in the wee hours of the morning from country Victoria north to the Sunshine Coast. It was a long day, filled with hours of driving, waiting, whining, wailing, flying, screaming, waiting, whining & a little more wailing – not all of which came from the children.
Upon arrival at our accommodation, I was frazzled & ready to call the whole thing off – it felt too hard, too much & too easy to just stay with my family & hide from taking a chance.
Then there was this;
After a family walk on the beach & splash in the water, some of my equilibrium returned & I felt more relaxed & ready to challenge myself to all things PBEvent … right up until I actually had to make it part of my ‘in real life’ actions by attending the pre-PBEvent catch up with the wonderful Blog Chicks (#bcevent) community … it was then I lost my nerve & had to be coaxed by my partner J-man into even getting in the car.
Beautiful Blog Chicks – L to R – Amanda from Cooker & a Looker, Janet from Redland City Living & Nicole from What Can I Cook?
Lucky for me he held my hand all the way, I got there & the rest, as they say … is a shiteload of information & emotional overload that I am still trying to process. Well, maybe ‘they’ don’t say that, but I certainly do!
Once I settled in, ie., a couple glasses of bubbly later, I was fortunate enough to meet some great people, all just as nervous & excited as I was. The hardest part, it turned out, was not meeting others, it was being able to hear them over the din of excited voices eclipsing the room!
It was a fabulous & exhausting evening, held at the Stingray Bar in the QT Hotel, where the conference was to kick off the following morning. After a frenzy of meeting & greeting lots of new faces, it was back to the family & many hours of broken sleep, filled with anticipation, excitement & anxiety.
Cue the commencement of the conference & from the opening keynote address from Problogger founder, Darren Rowse, I knew I was in for an intense time, crowded into an manmade ecosystem of passion, inspiration & encouragement from those who have made blogging work for them in ways I can’t even begin to comprehend. While I sat, willing, waiting, wanting to absorb it all, to ride the growing wave of enthusiasm & sparks of wonder & possibility shooting around the room, I found myself withdrawing, curling up into a ball & inwardly cringing, telling myself, “I don’t belong here”; “I cannot recreate that kind of success”; “I don’t have the courage to take the risk to build a dream”. Then Darren said something that made me stop that hideous train of thought & listen, not to the doubts & the faint whisper of cynicism, but to the possibilities. He said;
“Even wobbly courage is still courage.”
– Darren Rowse
This resonated with me because I always tend to see courage as being audacious & confident, not meek & tentative. If I was in a place where feeling a little uncertain & wonky, but ‘having a go’ is considered brave, then maybe, just maybe, I was in the right place after all.
“Fear is a signal that something important is about to happen, pay attention to it. Don’t let it stop you, because that something could be amazing!”
- Darren Rowse
This statement also hit home, as I had that feeling of gut wrenching, hand shaking, verge of tears producing fear in the lead up & upon entering into the rabble of excited participants . I can admit that I almost doubled back when I arrived, but to my delight & wonderous relief, the first face I saw was that of Emily from Have a laugh on me, whose blog I love & adore reading & who has been a regular reader & commenter on mine! Even more to my surprise & ever lasting gratitude Em recognised me! The world steadied, a little, & looking back on that moment, I think it was then that I took a step forward into that “something amazing”.
Over the next two days I heard a range of stories from those who have found their place in the world, having both personal & business success in the blogosphere & whose passion & drive to live their dream has come after much hard work & commitment to what they love. Each in their own way expressed that doing what they do now, has made their lives meaningful, where it once it may not have been. Some of the more profound words that are still repeating in my head include;
“I don’t want to just inspire you, I want to inspire you to action.”
- Amy Porterfield
Find out more about Amy at www.AmyPorterfield.com
“Change is something you have to do for yourself, don’t let anyone else do it for you.”
“Take yourself from pretty good, to way better.”
- Tsh Oxenreider
Find out more about Tsh at www.simplemom.net
“Inspiration without implementation is empty.”
“There are going to be haters … fight back with more awesome.”
- Trey Ratcliff
Find out more about Trey at www.stuckincustoms.com
Another speaker who caught my attention for her heart felt approach to blogging was the lovely Hailey Bartholomew, whose journey came from being at a place in her life where she felt “down” & “bored” & after seeking advice, decided to put more focus on the things in her life she was grateful for to find her happiness again. Her project, 365 grateful has become an amazing & life changing journey for Hailey & so many others. What I saw in Hailey was such a genuine & emotional connection to her blog & other work & this touched a part of me that has been quiet for what seems like a very long time. I have been so caught up in the drudgery of the day-to-day, part of me that used to appreciate the small things has become depressed. That saddens & frightens me.
Find out more about Hailey at www.365grateful.com & http://www.youcantbeserious.com.au/
One of the reasons that pushed me to not shy away from going to PBEvent, despite my fears & uncertainties, was seeing Clare Bowditch on the list of speakers. Already a big fan of Clare’s music – the chance to get up close to a favourite musician was an opportunity I really couldn’t pass up. I managed to snaffle a seat in the front row & after hearing Clare speak & watching her perform, I can say I am an even bigger fan girl now – she is incredible. Beautiful, natural, hilarious, engaging & man, can she sing! This was definitely a highlight of my PBEvent!
“How do we do what we were born to do? We begin.”
“Sometimes it’s our suffering that leads us to do what we’re meant to do in the world.”
– Clare Bowditch
Find out more about Clare at www.clarebowditch.com
There was so many more highlights that would make this more of an essay than a post, and I could bang on about the wonders of speakers, the venue & the food, but there is a level of personal truth that I am not addressing & I suspect is important here. Having read other round up & ‘learnings’ posts about PBEvent, I can see how impacted attenedees were & the passion & direction it ignited in them, which I am happy to see, for them.
While my experience at PBEvent was weighty & insightful, I felt & still feel like I was there, but the messages being sent were muffled, stifled if you like, by my own sense of disconnection & indifference to my life & the world around me. I think what I am trying to say it that, my biggest learning from PBEvent is that I am being smothered by my own apathy.
There was a part of me that wanted to reach out & embrace the whole thing, open arms, no holds barred, flag flying, ground-worshiping, I-can-do-this-too embracing. The kind that catapults you into action & keeps you moving forward, pushes you to stand up & be counted, to stay the path & do the ‘thing/s’ you want deeply & passionately to do. But there is a bigger part of me that is sitting, pillowed in a growing lethargy that is gaining mass & suffocating that wanting to the point of going numb.
I have every reason not to feel so dispassionate – three in particular, my partner & children – yet I find myself there, an onlooker to my own journey, present but not connected to the things I want most – family, friends, laughter, love, dreams … meaning. And I hate it.
What I want is what I saw in those who stood on stage & spoke of how they came to be there in that moment, on that day, at that conference. I don’t necessarily mean I want to be the one of the stage talking about how starting a blog lead to … (insert personal journey here). More than that, what I saw were everyday people who have found their place, doing what makes them happy & who are strongly connected to their lives & the world around them. What I saw were everyday people who have found a place of inner self-assurance & confidence that says, “I am doing what I was born to do” & to me that makes them extraordinary.
That is what I want for myself. That is what I took home from PBEvent. This is where I begin.
Cook! Eat! Enjoy!
Oh by the way – just so you know I’m not all doom & gloom, here’s some other highlights of my time at PBEvent;
I don’t know what these were called – but amazeballs!!
Meeting Michaela from Five Frogs on a Blog – honest, caring & hilarious. Also hanging out with Allison from Talking Frankly & Kim from Melbourne Mum. Great women, so warm & genuine! Love your guts ladies!!
Seeing actor Samuel Johnson riding a unicycle in a conference room filled with 400+ bloggers! Also, amazing man doing a wonderful thing to raise awareness for breast cancer – ‘Don’t fall into the booby trap!’ – check out www.loveyoursister.org for more.